Big lifestyle changes don’t come around very often unless we make them happen. A lot of people are content to stay stuck in their ways even if they’re disadvantageous or actively harmful. If you’re the kind of person that makes big changes to your life regularly, you already know that it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a decent amount of forethought and planning to really make a switch.
Such is the case with taking on a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalism has plenty of benefits, including less stress, less time cleaning, and a less messy household. However, the change to being a minimalist can be a difficult one. It calls for a lot of small changes in the way you live your life. If you’re fed up with living with too much stuff all over the place, minimalism might be able to help. Here we’ll show you how to take the first steps towards minimalism so you can start off strong and stick to it.
Make Your Own Rules
There are no hard and fast rules for minimalism. Everyone’s journey looks different. The most important thing to remember is that even though your minimalism may be different than another person’s, you still need to define what minimalism looks like to you specifically. This means creating rules for yourself that you can actually follow. If you know the transition will be difficult, don’t be so stringent on your definition of minimalism. Minimalism doesn’t have to mean getting rid of all your possessions and living in a tiny house, but you should have a basic understanding of your goals.
Shift Your Mindset
As with any large change in habits, it’s all about the mindset you go into it with. If you just tell yourself you’ll try to be a little more minimalistic but don’t really shift to a minimalist mindset, you’ll just fall back into your old habits again. When it comes to taking on a minimalist mindset, a good place to start is to think more intentionally about the things you own and buy. Rather than regular shopping splurges, you’ll need to stop yourself from making those decisions before they happen. Doing this takes time and effort—but nothing worth having is ever easy to obtain.
Understand Your Intentions
What does success look like to you? At what point will you look around and say, “I’ve succeeded in my attempt to become more minimalistic”? If you don’t define your success terms, you’ll never feel like enough is enough. This can make it difficult to stick to new habits for long periods. Maybe success looks like saving a certain amount of money, or maybe it looks like being able to see the floor of your bedroom. Whatever it is, knowing what it looks like before you start is the best way to eventually attain it.
When you consider how to take the first step towards minimalism, don’t get bogged down by the amount of work you have ahead of you. It’s true that the shift in behavior is big, but you don’t need to make sweeping changes overnight. This can actually be a shock to your system and make you rethink your goals. Instead, start the change with a few small things. Choose a few items from your closet and make a clothes donation with them. Refuse to buy another thing you don’t need in your house. These steps may seem small, but over time they will ease you into the idea of becoming more minimalist.
When we say “ruthlessly,” what we mean is to be brutally honest with yourself about your possessions. How many of them do you actually use or need regularly? Do you keep them around because you really enjoy them, or do you just not like throwing things away? These kinds of questions may be hard to answer at first but minimal living is all about having less and enjoying what you have more. Take on a “use it or lose it” mindset to help you be okay with letting things go. If it’s not used regularly, you probably won’t miss it when it’s gone.
Replace Instead of Add
Even the staunchest minimalists need to buy things sometimes—but they don’t simply add new things to their old stuff. When you get something new, it should replace an item you own instead of being added to the pile. If you buy a new swimsuit or winter jacket, it should replace the one you want to get rid of. By focusing more on replacing things rather than adding more stuff, you keep your home at a steady level of clutter that’s easier to manage without getting out of control.
Watch What You Bring In
There are two parts to being a minimalist. The first part is getting rid of things you no longer need. The second part is maintaining the new status quo by being careful with what you purchase or bring into your home. You might bring in a lot more junk from outside your home than you realize. Once you switch to a minimalist mindset, it will become very clear how the clutter in your home initially got out of control. Staying strong and declining not to take new things into your house that you don’t need will help keep your home minimalistic.
Taking the first steps towards minimalism can be a scary and stressful process, especially if you’re used to living in a cluttered home without thinking about the consequences of getting new stuff. However, once you get over the initial hurdle, you’ll find there is a level of tranquility you can’t get if you don’t live minimally. Whether your goal is to save more money, clean up your house, or just to have a more calming atmosphere, a minimalist lifestyle can help you get there.
As for the re-useable and donatable items you decide to get rid of, we hope you’ll keep GreenDrop in mind. We take a large variety of things that some people don’t want anymore and use them to do some real good in the world. If you have clothes or home good donations, give us a call, or visit one of our convenient drop-off locations for an easy way to get rid of what you no longer need.